Centre To Part-Fund Kerala Highway

Thiruvananthapuram, January 27: | Updated: Jan 28 2003, 05:30am hrs
In a gesture of amends for being left out of Kolkata-New Delhi-Chennai-Mumbai golden quadrilateral map, the Central government has offered fund-support for Keralas Rs 6,400-cr North-South Access Controlled Motorway project (Express Highway project). The funding is likely to be in the form of equity participation by financial institutions (FIs) like IDBI and Infrastructure Leasing & Financing Corporation (IL&FS)) or term loans by Hudco.

Prime Minister AB Vajpayee has last week personally assured the Kerala government that its losses in being kept out of the National Highway Authority of Indias (NHAI) ambitious golden quadrilateral project will be made good by the Centres active participation in its latest infrastructure project, MK Muneer, Kerala public works minister told FE . This assurance would mean that Kerala government would not have to push its way up the FDI path to fund the project.

The 507-km project matches only one-tenth of the 5,846-km golden quadrilateral project. However, modelled on the new breed of Express Highways in China, the Kerala project is access-controlled motorway, aiming to cut its 18-hour north-south travelling time to mere 5 hours. For the golden quadrilateral project, the envisaged trimming of travelling time is only 25 per cent.

Despite seven Expression of Interests (EoIs)) from players, including the government of Malaysia, the Jumbo project had not clinched any definite MoUs so far. This was because the Express Highway project was placed at the global investor meet (GIM) merely to showcase it and not to plunge into a deal in a hurry, insists the minister.

Out of the envisaged construction cost of Rs 4,642 crore, the equity participation by the state government and that by strategic partners like FIs had been worked out to be Rs 696 crore each. The loan amount of Rs 3,250 crore is to furnish the rest. With an opening field of funding options like IDBI, IL&FC and Hudco, the state government has already dropped its initial option of going the build, operate and transfer (BoT)) way.